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Chapter 4. The Dancing Bear > Consumer Electronics Victim

Consumer Electronics Victim

As consumers of software-based products, we are so used to accepting what we are given that we cannot see what could so easily be ours. Engineers make products that perform the tasks comprising the job but, lacking design, the collection of tasks still doesn't achieve the user's goals.

I have owned various videocassette recorders for over 20 years. All of them have had built-in facilities for delayed recording of shows, but none of these machines—even the $1,500, top-of-the-line model—gives me confidence that I will succeed. The interface the product presents to me is so hard to control, so hard to read, so unclear about terminology and settings, and so filled with hidden switches and modes that my success ratio has been a consistent 40%. More than half of the time, I find that I have recorded three hours of Brazilian soccer instead of the PBS special that I wanted. After years of struggling, I have merely conceded defeat and don't even try to record TV shows anymore. So has everyone in my family. So have all of my friends. We are survivors of dancing bearware.


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